The heart shape of this miniature epitomises the romantic role of the portrait miniature in the later Stuart period as an exchange of likenesses between betrothed couples or lovers.

The sitter portrayed in this unusual miniature is most likely Sir Walter Kirkham Blount of Sodington (d.1717), near Mamble, Worcestershire. Another portrait of Sir Walter is in the collection of the National Trust, at Sizergh Castle, the facial features compatible with this small oil. The National Trust also owns a painting of Sir Walter’s wife, Alice (or Alicia) Strickland, Lady Blount (1648-1680), for whom this miniature may have been commissioned. They were married in 1670, shortly after the date this miniature was painted, and had two sons, both of whom died in infancy.

After the death of his first wife, Sir Walter married Mary Cranmer but the couple had no children, Walter dying in Gaunt, Flanders, in May 1717. As well as Sheriff of Worcestershire, Sir Walter was something of a writer, publishing ‘The Spirit of Christianity’ in 1686. He also translated missals for the Catholic Church. In addition, there is evidence that he attempted, with a group of...

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The sitter portrayed in this unusual miniature is most likely Sir Walter Kirkham Blount of Sodington (d.1717), near Mamble, Worcestershire. Another portrait of Sir Walter is in the collection of the National Trust, at Sizergh Castle, the facial features compatible with this small oil. The National Trust also owns a painting of Sir Walter’s wife, Alice (or Alicia) Strickland, Lady Blount (1648-1680), for whom this miniature may have been commissioned. They were married in 1670, shortly after the date this miniature was painted, and had two sons, both of whom died in infancy.

After the death of his first wife, Sir Walter married Mary Cranmer but the couple had no children, Walter dying in Gaunt, Flanders, in May 1717. As well as Sheriff of Worcestershire, Sir Walter was something of a writer, publishing ‘The Spirit of Christianity’ in 1686. He also translated missals for the Catholic Church. In addition, there is evidence that he attempted, with a group of other like-minded men, to financially support a scheme to establish a tinplate industry in Britain.[1] This was part of a more extensive scheme to improve the English economy in the latter half of the 17th century.

The heart shape of this miniature epitomises the romantic role of the portrait miniature in the later Stuart period as an exchange of likenesses between betrothed couples or lovers. It is possible that Sir Walter commissioned this miniature during a trip to the Low Countries or from one of the many Dutch artists who settled in England. Hearts were found in many forms of jewellery in this period, including brooches and rings, but miniatures were largely housed in oval lockets, albeit often heavily jewelled or enamelled, making this example extremely rare. The closest comparable examples to the present miniature are the portrait of Ludovic Stuart, 1st Duke of Richmond and 2nd Duke of Lennox (1574-1624), painted by Isaac Oliver (c.1565-1617) and a miniature of an unknown Gentleman, painted by Peter Oliver (1594-1648) circa 1620.[2]

[1] See P. J. Brown, Andrew Yarranton and the British Tinplate Industry, Historical Metallurgy Journal, 1988

[2] The former is in the National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 3063), the latter sold by Philip Mould & Co., 2014.

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500 Years of British Art